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Friday, 03 March 2023 10:32

CFA Board Positions - Invitation to Apply

Written by

Inviting Applications for the CFA Board

Applications close Monday 26th June 2023.

The CFA Act recognises that it is important that the CFA Board has strong volunteer expertise, knowledge and understanding of CFA volunteers. To support this, four of the skills-based CFA Board members are appointed by the Minister for Emergency Services from a panel of names submitted by VFBV.

This year, the terms of two volunteer nominees will expire in December 2023, with both members eligible for re-appointment. One is for a volunteer from brigades predominantly serving rural communities, and the other being for a volunteer from brigades predominantly serving urban communities.

VFBV are now seeking further applications from any CFA volunteer interested in applying for these two volunteer-nominated positions on the CFA Board.

CFA volunteers who believe they have the skills, experience and capacity to make a contribution to the Board of the CFA are invited to apply.

In addition to volunteer experience and knowledge, selection will haver regard to any of the following: knowledge of, or experience in, commercial, technical, operational, legal or financial matters; or expertise in fire or emergency management, land management or any other field relevant to the performance of the functions of CFA.

VFBV is seeking gender and culturally diverse candidates, in additional to a diverse range of skills and experience including applicants from diverse brigade type and classifications.

From applications received and following a selection process including interviews. VFBV will submit a panel of names to the Minister for Emergency Services.

The CFA Board meets on a monthly basis, usually on a Monday and also operates a committee system which could require an additional commitment of at least one day per month. Regular attendance at official functions and brigade/group events is also expected.

The appointment to the CFA Board would be for a period of up to three years.

The CFA Board Charter and Position Description are available for download below.

 

Application process

Applications must include:

1.       A cover letter outlining why you are interested in applying, your experience relevant to a Board position, your volunteer background and experience, and any further information to address the key selection criteria contained within the position description.

2.       A completed ‘Quick Self Summary’ (available for download below)

3.       A current resume

4.       Names and contact details of two referee’s

 

Applications should be marked Private & Confidential, and addressed to VFBV CEO via:

Post: VFBV, 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East VIC 3151

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Applicants will be contacted regarding any further steps involved in the selection process which will include interviews held via videoconferencing or in person as well as reference checks.

 

For other relevant information, interested volunteers can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Applications close Monday 26th June 2023.

 

Friday, 03 March 2023 09:59

VFBV Board Vacancies - Invitation to Apply

Written by

Invitation open to all CFA volunteers to apply

Closing date for written applications is Monday 28th August 2023.

VFBV advances the interests for all Victorian fire brigade volunteers and advocates on their behalf to CFA and other key stakeholders. The VFBV Board drives policy development based on volunteer input and is involved in the management of issues of central importance to all CFA volunteers.

VFBV invites applications from any CFA volunteer who is motivated by the prospect of making a difference and believes they have the skills to contribute to the VFBV Board.

Vacancies on the VFBV Board will arise when the terms of four VFBV Board members expire on the 1st October 2023. Of the four members whose terms are expiring, two members are eligible for re-appointment.

The term of appointment will be to 1st October 2025 (two years) and applications are invited from interested volunteers to be considered for these vacancies.

The role of a VFBV Board Member involves contributing to VFBV direction, policy determination and monitoring the performance and governance of the Association.  This includes actively contributing to policy discussion, consulting with CFA volunteers and contributing to the identification and management of strategic issues.

This is an honorary position; no honorarium is paid.

VFBV is seeking applications from gender and culturally diverse candidates, in additional to a diverse range of skills and experience including from applicants from diverse brigade types and classifications.

Prior to applying you should familiarise yourself with the following documents, each available for download at the bottom of this page:

  1. VFBV Board Member Role Statement including key selection criteria
  2. VFBV Board Code of Conduct Policy and Declaration
  3. VFBV Conflict of Interest Policy and Declaration

 

How to apply

If you are motivated by the prospect of making a difference for CFA volunteers, then send your written application addressing the following:

  1. The key selection criteria in the role statement
  2. An outline of your VFBV involvement and experience or in the case of there being none – outline how you have supported or advocated for VFBV positions/campaigns or support CFA volunteer improvements
  3. An outline of your CFA activity
  4. A resume, including the names of two referees

 

Applications must be lodged with VFBV by Monday 28th August 2023.

Applications should be marked Private and Confidential and addressed to: VFBV, 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East VIC 3151

Or via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax (03) 9886 1618

If you have any queries, please feel free to contact the VFBV office on (03) 9886 1141.

Friday, 03 March 2023 09:43

Nominations for CFA and Brigades Donations Fund

Written by

Nominations close Monday 19th June 2023. 

VFBV is calling for nominations to the CFA and Brigades Donations Fund.

The purpose of the Fund is to raise and receive money and donations of goods and services from the public for distribution to Brigades to assist with the costs of purchasing and maintaining firefighting equipment, facilities, training and resources and administrative expenses of Brigades which are associated with their firefighting functions.

Following nominations, five new or reappointed members will be appointed by the VFBV Board to serve as VFBV Trustees on the Fund for a term of two years.

All current Trustees are eligible for re-appointment.

The Trust Fund meets quarterly, either virtually or at CFA Headquarters.

The appointments to the Fund come into effect as from the Trust’s AGM which is normally held in July/August.

 

How to apply

If you are interested in nominating as a VFBV Trustee, please provide a written application addressing the following:

1.       A cover letter detailing your enthusiasm for the role and outlining key experience you can bring to the role;

2.       A Resume

 

Nominations close on Monday 19th June 2023 and can be mailed to the VFBV office, 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East 3151 or emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Formal consultation has commenced on a revised suite of policies and procedures for radio allocation in preparation for the planned rollout of CFA's replacement to the operational radio fleet. 

The proposed draft policy and procedure and related schedules is available for download from the bottom of this page.

For the purposes of consultation and to assist you navigate the various documents, we highlight the following:

• The policy establishes guidelines to ensure CFA is allocating radios in the most effective, practical and systematic way

• The policy establishes that CFA will monitor underutilized radios and reallocate them instead of issuing additional radios in the first instance

• The procedure outlines the Radio Operational Justification criteria

• Schedule 1 provides the proposed radio allocation matrix

• Schedule 3 is the proposed Operational Justification Assessment guide

Members are encouraged to review the draft policy and procedure and provide any feedback/suggestions/amendments including indicating support/non-support for the proposed documents.

 

Feedback can be provided by individuals, brigades and groups.  

All feedback is used to inform and influence formal VFBV positions as well as used to influence CFA positions and thinking during the deliberative process. If we need to use your feedback to demonstrate or illustrate the views of members, your personal details will not be shared with CFA, and feedback will always be de-identified to protect your privacy.

We encourage members not to wait until deadlines to provide feedback, but rather provide it as early as possible which will give us a chance to conduct further research that may assist us being able to advocate more strongly for your desired outcome.

Feedback is due by Wednesday 15th March, 2023.

All members are welcome and encouraged to provide feedback. If you have any questions, please contact your local State Councilor or VFBV Support Officer in the first instance.

 


 

How to provide feedback:

It would be preferred that members provide feedback ASAP, so that it can be received incrementally, allowing us enough time to consolidate, identify trends and research issues raised by members. 

Feedback can be provided via:

  1. Emailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  2. Complete a short survey via CFA Radio Allocation Policy and Procedure (zohopublic.com.au)

  3. Your local VFBV District Council or your local VFBV Support Officer

  4. By Post: 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East VIC 3151

  5. By Fax: (03) 9886 1618

Feedback does not need to be long or detailed, but if you do have the time to make substantive comment that is always welcome.

If you generally support a principle or policy, then a quick note letting us know would also be helpful. Similarly, let us know if you do not support it, or which aspects of it you don't support.

Where indicating non-support, it would be helpful to understand the key reasons why, and even a couple of brief bullet points would be adequate. Likewise, if you would prefer to provide a more detailed response, or mark-up and suggest changes to the documents, that is welcome also.

Your feedback will assist us form a VFBV position and response to the proposed changes and help us advocate on behalf of CFA volunteers. Please consider getting involved, and providing us your feedback ASAP.

Please remember to provide feedback in support as well as against. If we only hear from those who are against, it can be harder to determine the general comfort level of members with the proposals.

Formal consultation has commenced on a draft CFA Policy covering the use of Alcohol and other drugs.

The proposed draft policy is available for download from the bottom of this page.

For the purposes of consultation, CFA has advised that this policy:

• Applies to employees and volunteers equally

• Aims to ensure the ongoing health and safety of CFA members around alcohol and other drugs

• Has no requirement for alcohol or drug testing

• Provides all members with clear guidelines for acceptable practices in relation to the legal and responsible consumption of alcohol at CFA activities and events

• Provides guidance for members taking prescription or over the counter drugs that may adversely affect or impair their ability to perform duties safely

• Provides information for drug and alcohol counselling and support services

Members are encouraged to review the draft policy and provide any feedback/suggestions/amendments including indicating support/non-support for the proposed policy.

In particular, VFBV is keen to hear volunteer views on:

• The arrangements for a 'responsible officer' to be appointed and present during the consumption of alcohol

• The ability for new brigades to apply for a liquor licence (community club or BYO licence) will not be permitted once this policy comes into effect

• Is the general policy advice and language easy to understand and follow

Feedback can be provided by individuals, brigades and groups.  

All feedback is used to inform and influence formal VFBV positions as well as used to influence CFA positions and thinking during the deliberative process. If we need to use your feedback to demonstrate or illustrate the views of members, your personal details will not be shared with CFA, and feedback will always be de-identified to protect your privacy.

We encourage members not to wait until deadlines to provide feedback, but rather provide it as early as possible which will give us a chance to conduct further research that may assist us being able to advocate more strongly for your desired outcome.

Feedback is due by Monday 8th May, 2023.

All members are welcome and encouraged to provide feedback. If you have any questions, please contact your local State Councillor or VFBV Support Officer in the first instance.

 


 

How to provide feedback:

It would be preferred that members provide feedback ASAP, so that it can be received incrementally, allowing us enough time to consolidate, identify trends and research issues raised by members. 

Feedback can be provided via:

  1. Emailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  2. Complete a short survey via CFA Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy (zohopublic.com.au)

  3. Your local VFBV District Council or your local VFBV Support Officer

  4. By Post: 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East VIC 3151

  5. By Fax: (03) 9886 1618

Feedback does not need to be long or detailed, but if you do have the time to make substantive comment that is always welcome.

If you generally support a principle or policy, then a quick note letting us know would also be helpful. Similarly, let us know if you do not support it, or which aspects of it you don't support.

Where indicating non-support, it would be helpful to understand the key reasons why, and even a couple of brief bullet points would be adequate. Likewise, if you would prefer to provide a more detailed response, or mark-up and suggest changes to the documents, that is welcome also.

Your feedback will assist us form a VFBV position and response to the proposed changes and help us advocate on behalf of CFA volunteers. Please consider getting involved, and providing us your feedback ASAP.

Please remember to provide feedback in support as well as against. If we only hear from those who are against, it can be harder to determine the general comfort level of members with the proposals.

Wednesday, 08 February 2023 16:28

February 2023 Newsletter

Written by

From the Ashes 
By Adam Barnett, VFBV Chief Executive Officer 

There is a quote attributed to ‘The Second Ash Wednesday’ by Bardsley, Fraser and Heathcote that says ‘the lesson of experience is that we do not learn from experience’. There is a more poetic version used by University of Wollongong academics Eriksen and Head that describe the ‘repetitive rhythm in its findings’ to describe Australian bushfire research, reviews and the topics that arise following major bushfires in Australia.

I don’t use these quotes to suggest that we have learned nothing from previous fires, in fact the contrary would be true. And fire services in particular have often led the charge. But how about the wider emergency management sector and instrumentalities including local government?

I pose the question of whether we have maximised the learnings of these disasters using the benefit of time and hindsight long after the public focus fades from memory? Have we really done enough to embed these learnings into today’s context, especially given the very high price we have paid in terms of the loss of precious life from many of these disasters.

In the forward of ‘Ash Wednesday in Upper Beaconsfield’ published nine years after Ash Wednesday in 1992, Ian Symons AFSM, who was at that time a CFA Chief Superintendent and OIC of the then Region 8 writes; “This book provides a picture of what did happen almost ten years ago and how today’s community grew out of the ashes. It also provides a stark warning of what could happen again if we forget the lessons of the past.” Ian, who continues to be a committed CFA volunteer today, rounds out his foreword with the following sage advice: “I hope that those who read it will be motivated to take whatever preventative measures and actions they can to help avoid such devastation and community disruption from occurring again.”

This month will mark 40 years since the Ash Wednesday fires of the 16th February 1983.

For a quarter of a decade, these fires were the deadliest bushfires in Australian history until the Black Saturday fires of 2009. Across Victoria and South Australia, a total of 75 people died, including 14 CFA volunteers and 3 CFS volunteers.

The lead up to Ash Wednesday depicts the perilous state of affairs that preceded that fateful day. Victoria was in drought. Rainfall was low, and summer rainfall in particular was down 75% from previous years.

The Victorian bushfire season commenced in November 1982, and the earliest total fire ban day ever declared at the time, was made on the 24 November 1982. There were to be 22 total fire bans declared during the 1982/83 fire season.

Large fires burned from 3 December to 1 February 1983 affecting Ballan, Cann River, Mount Donna Buang, and Mount Macedon.

On the 9th February 1983 strong wind gusts lifted over 200,000 tonnes of soil and dirt into the air and mixed it with the smoke from the fires to create a vast dust storm that blanketed southern Australia.

By early morning on Ash Wednesday, 104 fires were already burning across Victoria with many of those controlled by 2pm. A hot dry northerly pushed temperatures into the 40s and humidity levels dropped below 15% creating a tinderbox of fine fuels across the State.

By 3pm a cold front hit South Australia with a change of wind direction and winds of up to 100km per hour that then travelled towards Victoria reaching the Victorian fire fronts in the late afternoon and early evening. The wind change caused fires to merge and caused the long flank sides of many of the running fires to become the front, with the wind fanning extreme conditions. Most of the losses of life occurred in the hour following the wind change.

CFA attended 180 different fires throughout the State on that day, eight of which were considered of major proportions affecting Cudgee/Ballangeich; East Trentham/ Mount Macedon; Otway ranges; Belgrave Heights/ Beaconsfield Upper; Cockatoo; Monivae; Branxholme; and Warburton.

In addition to the fatalities, the statistics of that fire season are confronting. On Ash Wednesday alone, 2,080 homes were destroyed or damaged; 32,750 head of stock were lost; 8,000 kilometres of fencing were burnt, and 200,000 hectares were burnt. When accounting for all fires over the 1982/83 fire season, the Forestry Commission recorded that more than 606,000 hectares (including 486,000ha of parks and forests) were burnt. For comparison the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recorded 173 fatalities and 430,000 hectares burnt.

From Ash Wednesday came many improvements to the fire services. Refined ‘Red flag’ warnings and the intricate processes to ensure all crew members are advised of changing conditions is one example. Another example arose from CFA highlighting the problems arising when police refused access to CFA volunteers and CFA tankers into the fire areas on the grounds that the conditions were too dangerous. This highlighted that police had taken on a controlling role under DISPLAN rather than a coordinating one, and had unilaterally overridden the statutory powers of the CFA Chief Officer and impacted fire suppression. This was rectified with haste ensuring all agencies understood that CFA has by law unfettered access to all fire areas under direction of the Chief Officer.

The lack of a dedicated fire prevention department within CFA was also highlighted, which resulted in the commissioning of community safety and fire prevention officers within CFA and what we know today as the community preparedness directorate to lead public education and safety messages.

As too were improvements in heat shielding and ensuring all tankers were fitted with heat shields to protect crews. The vaporisation of fuels that inflicted CFA tankers highlighted the need to transition to diesel fuels which had much higher flashpoints.

One only needs to look at the pictures of Ash Wednesday to observe the standard of personal protective clothing in use at the time. To quote the bushfire review committee “Adequate protective clothing is needed for all firefighters and should include helmet, overalls, gloves, boots and suitable eye protection.”

And training was identified as a major issue, with the committee recommending the need for wider use of survival training for individual firefighters. One only needs to review CFA’s current recruit training and annual burn over drill requirements to see the genesis of these modern-days safety improvements.

So, what are some of the things that might be worth revisiting?

The Ash Wednesday fires bought to light the perilous state of municipal disaster plans. The report into the bushfires found that only 41 out of the 211 municipalities were reported as having disaster plans.

Given that the requirement to have regional and municipal fire prevention committees was excised from the CFA Act in 2018 and replaced with broader ‘emergency management plans’ under EMV - how confident are we these plans are actually an improvement and are adequately setting in motion the required annual works to mitigate and treat bushfire risks on public and private property?

The actual recommendation from the bushfires review was “Local authorities must heed the advice of Regional and Local Advisory Committees concerning fire hazard control and take action accordingly; if necessary, local authorities should be placed under stronger mandatory requirements.” And “Some municipal fire prevention plans are below the required standard because of inappropriate proper officers, or no proper officers at all. Proper officers should be replaced by fulltime Fire Prevention Officers with independent powers. “

And then there are these two recommendations: “Responsibility for roadside fire prevention measures must be clearly defined, and implemented accordingly.” Followed by “Local government legislation should be amended so that conservation interests cannot overbear sensible fire prevention and protection measures.”

Forty years on – how do we think progress on those last two recommendations would be judged? The same difficulties of planned and fuel reduction burning that we are reporting today echoes throughout the bushfire review committees final report.

The report also articulates the value of the CFA model and is worth quoting in full.

“The intricacy and breadth of activity involved in preparedness and response at local community level underlines the value and indispensable nature of the voluntary effort which is forthcoming from within the community itself. This is particularly so in the case of CFA but the contribution made by other community- related organisations (such as local SES units, Red Cross, Country Women’s Association, Church bodies, WICEN, hospital auxiliaries) must not be overlooked. In a very real sense, therefore, the local community participation constitutes a resource without which successful counter bushfire and other-disaster action cannot be achieved.”

“A viable alternative to the current CFA system would, in the view of the Committee, be difficult, if not impossible, to find and would be prohibitively expensive. This local resource and contribution must be preserved. Moreover, it must be given all possible support and assistance to function effectively. Thus policy and organisational measures which are applied from regional and State Government level, must be designed to give proper weight to the CFA system.”

How would current policy be judged against this wisdom paid for by the blood and sweat of the thousands of Victorian’s involved in the 1983 bushfires?

To all those members who were involved in the Ash Wednesday Fires, and those of the 1982/83 bushfire season, we pause this month to remember and pay tribute to your sacrifice and tremendous efforts. On behalf of all volunteers I say thank-you.

To policy makers and those in positions of authority, please honour our fallen and the sacrifices of the living by heeding the wisdom and foresight of these past disasters and reviews so we are not doomed to repeat them.

I close this month’s column with the words from the Spirit of CFA to honour all members who stand in defence of their communities.

Hailing from all walks of life, you are our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, our grandparents, neighbours and our friends. You help and protect us, without wanting or recognition of reward. In our time of need you are there. Your courage and compassion are inspiring, your loyalty unquestionable. You comfort us with a tender hand; you stand at the face of nature’s beast and fight for our lives and our land. You are the essence of the true meaning of community. You epitomise the Australian spirit, the spirit of CFA.


 

Final Days

The Vol Survey will be closing on Wednesday 15 February. Scan the QR code below, or visit the VFBV website to complete it today.

 

 

 

2023 State Championships: Entries Closing Soon

Entries for the 2023 State Championships as well as judge and officials registration are closing soon.

Brigade and team entries will again be collected online for the 2023 championships. Please visit tinyurl.com/2023-champ-entry-open for links to enter your team or register as a judge or official for any of the championships by Sunday 19 February 2023.

The State Championships will again be held in Mooroopna in 2023 with the Urban Junior competition taking place on the weekend of 18 and 19 March. The following weekend, 25 and 26 March, the Urban Senior and Rural State Championships will take place.

The 2023 will also mark 150 years since the recorded official demonstration which involved brigades from across Victoria to demonstrate their skills to people of Melbourne. This first demonstration commenced with a Torchlight Procession through the streets of Melbourne.  While many of the competition events have changed since 1873 the Torchlight Procession has remained largely unchanged and will be conducted again at the 2023 State Championships following a successful return in 2022. 

Participation in the torchlight procession is open to all brigades competing at the Urban Senior and Rural Championships as well as any interested non-competing brigades. If your brigade is interested in participating in the Torchlight Procession, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register your brigade’s participation.

Visit the VFBV website to register for any of the 2023 State Championships. The website also has information for competing brigades, updated rule books for both the urban and rural competitions as well as lists of local competitions being conducted in the lead up to the State Championships.

If you require an assistance during the registration process or for more information on the Championships, please contact the VFBV office on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 9886 1141.

 

Ash Wednesday

A reminder that the 40-year commemoration of the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 service will be held on Sunday 12th February 2023 at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre in Cockatoo.

In person bookings are now closed. The service will be live streamed for those unable to attend on the day and will be available from the CFA website.

 

 

CFA Donations Trust: Call for Trustees
The VFBV Board is calling for nominations from interested volunteers interested in being a VFBV appointed trustee to the CFA and Brigades Donations Fund.

The purpose of the Fund is to raise and receive money and donations of goods and services from the public for distribution to Brigades to assist with costs of purchasing and maintaining firefighting equipment, facilities, training and resources and administrative expenses of Brigades which are associated with their firefighting functions.

Over recent years this Trust has been very busy managing the donations received following the 2019/20 bushfire season, with initiatives such as the District pick list program where brigades could select from.

Following nominations, five new or reappointed members will be appointed by the VFBV Board to serve as VFBV Trustees on the Fund for a term of two years.

All current Trustees are eligible for re-appointment.

The Trust Fund committee meets quarterly, either via teleconference or at CFA HQ.

Nominations close Friday 16th June 2023 and can be mailed to VFBV office, 9/24 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East 3151 or emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

AFSM honours

The 2023 Australia Day Honours list recognised five CFA members for their contribution to the Victorian community among more than 1,000 recipients of honours announced on Australia Day.

Recipients of the AFSM were Mark Cartledge, Neil Marshall, Michael Rowe, Robert ‘Toddy’ Small and Ken Stuart.

VFBV congratulates these five CFA members for their outstanding contribution to the broader community along with the other Australian’s recognised in the Australia Day honours list this year.

Two Fire Rescue Victoria members also received the Australian Fire Service Medal in the honours, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony O’Day and Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Guy McCrorie. VFBV extend our congratulations to both Tony and Guy also.

You can read more about each of the CFA recipients on the VFBV website.

 

 

Fire Wise – February 2023 online only edition

The February 2023 edition of Fire Wise has been published online only, this edition and past editions are available from the Fire Wise website.

You can support Fire Wise and the role it plays as an independent voice in keeping volunteers informed by becoming a subscriber. To become a Fire Wise subscriber visit the Fire Wise website or contact the Managing Editor of Fire Wise, Gordon Rippon-King either by phone 0402 051 412 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Recent articles on the VFBV website
Now Open – 2022 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey

2023 State Championships Entries Now Open

Australia Day Honours 2023

 

Enjoy the VFBV monthly newsletter?
If you enjoy reading the VFBV newsletter each month, why not share it with your fellow volunteers?

Either share this page with others who may enjoy the articles or encourage other volunteers to sign up to receive their own copy via email each month here.

 

Monday, 30 January 2023 14:29

Australia Day Honours 2023

Written by

The 2023 Australia Day Honours list recognised five CFA members for their contribution to the Victorian community among more than 1,000 recipients of honours this year.

VFBV congratulates these members for their outstanding contribution to CFA and the broader community.

Mark Cartledge AFSM – Mark has served as a CFA volunteer with Ballarat Fire Brigade for the last 30 years and has held numerous brigade management team roles during this time and is currently the Captain of Ballarat Fire Brigade.  Mark has been recognised for his operational leadership, commitment and dedication to the brigade’s Rescue Unit as well as his work increasing awareness of road trauma.  You can read more about Mark here.

Neil Marshall AFSM – For more than 60 years Neil has been a member of CFA and has roles from firefighter with the Panton Hill brigade all the way up to Deputy Chair of the CFA Board.  Neil was instrumental in the introduction of the Australian Inter-service Incident Management System (AIIMS) into CFA including playing a role in helping to develop and write the initial AIIMS manual.  He also chaired the CFA working party that developed and supported the introduction of peer support into CFA.  At a local level Neil was a driving force behind the creation of the Panton Hill Firefighters Welfare Trust which supported families of Panton Hill firefighters who lost their lives on Ash Wednesday. You can read more about Neil here

Michael Rowe AFSM – Michael joined the Clunes brigade as a teenager in 1981 alongside his father before transferring to the Cape Clear brigade in 1989 where he has held the position of Captain since 2010.  Michael has particularly been recognised for the development of strategies and techniques which make roadside burning safer and more productive.  Michael also instigated women-only burn days which encourage women to get involved in and experienced in roadside burning.  You can read more about Michael here.

Robert ‘Toddy’ Small AFSM – Toddy has been a CFA volunteer since 1974 and has been recognised for his distinguished service to CFA for more than 47 years.  Toddy has held many roles within CFA including Captain of the Ferntree Gully brigade.  Toddy has also been heavily involved in the design and development of the Medium Pumper and Heavy Tanker within CFA.  You can read more about Toddy here.

Ken Stuart AFSM – Ken has been a member of the Mount Taylor brigade since 1967 and his service to CFA includes 20 years as Captain of the brigade.  Ken’s influence extends beyond the Mount Taylor brigade and he was influential in supporting surrounding brigades and the wider community during and after major fires in East Gippsland.  Ken has also been recognised for his expertise in fuel reduction, the construction of fire breaks and back burning which have been credited in preventing  a number major fires from reaching heavily populated areas and reducing the impact of fires on the community.  You can read more about Ken here.

VFBV congratulates these five CFA members for their outstanding contribution to the broader community along with the other Australian’s recognised in the Australia Day honours list this year.

Two Fire Rescue Victoria members also received the Australian Fire Service Medal in the honours, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony O’Day and Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Guy McCrorie.  VFBV extend our congratulations to both Tony and Guy also.


Nominations for AFSM's

Nominations for AFSM's are accepted at any time through CFA's Honours and Awards Committee. 

The AFSM honours the distinguished service of members of fire services who make an exceptionable contribution to their communities. The AFSM recognises those whose service is above and beyond the normal zealous and faithful discharge of normal or ordinary service, either in the short or long term.

CFA volunteers are often modest and reluctant to seek out recognition for the service they have provided to their community and may not have a realistic appreciation of the impact they have had on CFA, their community, within VFBV or your Brigade or Group. They’re not in it for the honour or glory, but it’s up to each of us to ensure we take the time to say ‘thank-you’ to those people who have stepped up and help inspire us all to do better.

If you know a quiet achiever who has contributed to CFA, who goes above and beyond what could be reasonably expected of someone in a similar position, please consider nominating them for an AFSM.  

The Australian Honours system has been designed to break down artificial barriers and open the Australian Honours to all parts of our society. Any member of the community can nominate any other Australian citizen for an award.

It is also critically important we encourage nominations for groups who are typically under-represented in Australian Honours like the AFSM. In particular we are encouraging a greater gender mix.

Women in particular are under-represented in AFSM’s awarded when we consider the thousands of women within the fire services across the country. And while things are improving, much more can be done.

There are so many exceptional CFA women and men deserving to be recognised, so please consider nominating someone you feel is deserving.

A common misconception is that only those members who have decades worth of service are recognised by the Honours system. The AFSM is not a long-service award, its sole criterion is distinguished service. And while prolonged service forms part of the key criteria, ‘prolonged’ is considered by the honour and awards committee’s to be taken in context as to what is considered ‘longer than usual’ and in context of what is ‘above and beyond’ the normal or ordinary service expected. Exceptional service that is sustained over a period of time can be considered as satisfying the criteria. For example, has the members contribution been in excess of expectations for a ‘normal’ member and over what duration? The Committee will consider the nature of the service or achievement within the context of a member’s service history when weighing up the various criteria.

This is especially important for women within CFA who may have their service overlooked simply because they haven’t been a Captain or Group Officer for 30+ years. While these are important leadership roles – our service is a team environment, and everyone’s contribution is valued.

Nothing should take away from the incredible achievement decade long service is, but the Honours system is designed to recognise those that make a significant contribution, and to represent the things that our communities believe to be deserving of recognition, including from those who are perhaps trailblazers for others to follow. Think of those people who have pushed the boundaries or have been first to reach and hold leadership positions that has been inspirational to those around them. For example, think of members who have overcome additional barriers, like English not being their first language and who have toiled away to learn the language and become masterful communicators designing new innovative community safety engagements to CALD communities and serving as a role model for other community members. Who are the people you look up to? Who are the people who have really made a difference in your Brigade or Group? 

Distinguished service includes service that is above and beyond and can be short-term or prolonged. It is service that can be exemplified by; responsibility for an outstanding event that has proven to be of significant benefit to the fire service or community; development of a new system, procedure or technique that is unique and made a significant contribution to the fire service; or outstanding leadership in the encouragement and development of others, particularly youth within the fire services.

While it can seem daunting to nominate a potential recipient, some guiding principles that could assist in completing a nomination for an AFSM are:

- In what role(s) has the nominee excelled?
- How has the nominee demonstrated service worthy of recognition?
- How has the nominee’s contribution affected a particular field, locality, brigade, group or community at large?
- Over what period has the nominee made a major commitment?
- Has the nominee’s contribution been recognised elsewhere?
- What makes this person stand out from others?
- What specific examples can be provided to show how the nominee’s contribution(s) have been outstanding?

Nominations for awards are strictly confidential. The person being nominated should not be approached for information or advised of the confidential nomination at any stage of the process.

 

Additional Resources to Assist

Honours and Awards Toolkit

Guide to Preparing Nominations for the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM)

AFSM Nomination Form

Want to discuss a potential nomination or need some more information? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


 About the Australian Fire Service Medal 

Introduced in 1988, the Australian Fire Service Medal recognised distinguished service by members of Australian fire services and is awarded to both volunteer and paid members. The award recognised the distinguished service by members of a State or Territory Fire Service, a Fire Service of an agency of the Commonwealth, and the Fire Services of the External Territories of Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling Island) and Norfolk Island.

The medal is awarded twice a year as part of the Australia Day award and Queen’s Birthday award announcements.

 

Criteria for the Australian Fire Service Medal 

To be considered for this award it would be expected that the nominee has given service beyond the norm exemplified by:

  1. Prolonged service distinguished by exceptional performance in a particular area that has proved significant benefit to the fire service; and one or more of the following.
  2. Responsibility for and management of an outstanding/exceptional event that has proven to be of significant benefit to the fire service, a community or community safety generally.
  3. Development of a new system, or procedure, or technique that is unique and has made a significant contribution to the fire service, a community or community safety generally.
  4. Outstanding leadership in the encouragement and development of others, particularly youth, within the fire service and the fostering and furthering of the aims of the fire service to the long-term benefit of the fire service and the community.
  5. Demonstrated creativity in the development and implementation of innovative changes that have made a significant contribution to the fire service, fire/emergency operations, or the interests of community safety.
Monday, 16 January 2023 15:47

January 2023 Newsletter

Written by

The promise of a new year 
By Adam Barnett, VFBV Chief Executive Officer 

It was American columnist Bill Vaughan who quipped “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” Which were you this year?

Reflecting on the year just gone, I share a great sense of hope and optimism for the year ahead. We have made some great progress in recent times, and efforts that have been in train for a while now should hopefully start producing some results throughout 2023.

Shortly, I am hoping the draft five-year implementation plan to address the recommendations made by CFA’s culture and issues management review will be ready for wider consultation and review by volunteers. I have been very pleased to see the early efforts made internally within CFA to build a set of draft actions that seek to address the various findings.

CFA has committed to undertaking broad consultation on the draft plan and I am looking forward to those continuing discussions. The proof of course will be tangible outcomes and progress that can be felt at all levels of the organisation. Actions range across culture reform, improved diversity and inclusion programs, embedding the behavioural standards, improved conflict management and disciplinary processes, improved consultation and respect for the Volunteer Charter, new processes to help brigades and groups quantify what support they need, improved induction for new volunteers and staff and fairer and more transparent access to training, endorsements and appeals processes.

VFBV has challenged CFA to articulate and quantify how the various actions will result in an improvement, and how each will be felt, heard and seen by individual members in order for the results and progress to be judged against. Too often in the past, actions from various reports have just been paid lip service or wrapped in corporate speak which has not resulted in any definable or quantifiable improvements. We hope to change this, and I have been very pleased to observe the level of support within the CFA executive to bolster actions.

Similarly, our new Joint Committee processes kick in this year, with refined terms of reference for the eight CFA/VFBV Joint Committees and a renewed commitment by the CFA CEO and Chief Officer to strengthen these critical consultative mechanisms. The new commitments include a renewed focus on genuine engagement, transparency and accountability with new mechanisms to provide oversight and escalation where necessary. State Council has also agreed to refined processes to improve collaboration across the committees and greater use of short-term working parties to progress specific issues that may require the input of one or more committees.

Natalie, Jason and myself have each worked personally to reinvigorate the Joint Committee processes and agree to the overarching governance arrangements to ensure they are setup for success and taken seriously.

We have worked together to find common ground and a structure that isn’t overly bureaucratic but yet still provides appropriate checks and balances.

I am hopeful that this high level of commitment and leadership sends a powerful message that we are serious about using the committees to genuinely work together and solve problems, making CFA a terrific place to volunteer and work.

In the spirit of the mutual respect laid down by the volunteer charter, our committee structures don’t rely on us always agreeing, but rather provides a formal mechanism for each of our organisations to know exactly where the other stands on a particular issue leading to a better understanding of what we are each trying to address.

Regular readers would be aware that I don’t place my trust or optimism lightly, but you should draw confidence from recent actions that demonstrate that CFA is becoming more responsive.

Members would note that following broad consultation with VFBV and drawing on the work we did with Brigade Captains across the state, CFA and other volunteer emergency services (CFA, SES and LSV) recently relaxed its vaccination mandates, aligning themselves with community settings. CFA should be commended on listening to the feedback and responding appropriately.

Similarly, just before Christmas I was pleasantly surprised to receive a detailed response to the VFBV feedback we provided on SOP 5.04 on hose testing. While a lot of effort goes into providing, analysing and consolidating the results of volunteer feedback, sadly it has not always been routine to get a detailed response and learn how the feedback has been considered.

To the credit of the Fire Equipment Maintenance (FEM) team, most of the feedback has been taken on board and incorporated into a new revised SOP which is now going through its approval processes with the Chief. This includes improvements to better clarify PPC requirements, incorporating the use of hose test trailers into the SOP, aligning test pressures with brigade capability rather than a generic brigade classification, and modifying the existing requirement to test all hose after each use with a more common-sense inspection process to determine after use servicing and testing requirements based on how the hose was actually used.

And while consultation takes time, the provision of suitable time to conduct broad field consultation and discuss the issues with brigades and groups has led to a much-improved piece of doctrine, which is now vastly more intuitive and user friendly and far more likely to achieve the improved safety outcomes that were sought. The FEM team should be congratulated for their approach, and I thank them most sincerely for the collaborative and respectful manner they have conducted their review.

PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION

In further welcome news, on the 15th December amendments to the Commonwealth Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Prescribed Cancers) regulations received royal assent by the Governor General. This amendment added a further eight new cancers to the Commonwealth’s firefighter presumptive (cancer) legislation. The new cancers added are lung, skin, cervical, ovarian, penile, pancreatic and thyroid cancers as well as malignant mesothelioma. The new cancers include the addition of specific female reproductive cancers, taking the total number of cancers covered by the federal scheme from 12 to 20.

While this does not directly affect Victorian firefighters just yet, it adds much needed impetus for the Victorian scheme to be updated.

Members would recall that independent MP Tania Maxwell (and fellow CFA volunteer) introduced a private members bill last year seeking to include three female reproductive cancers. While the bill was opposed by both the Government and the opposition, Minister Symes (Emergency Services Minister) did commit to further work to pursue their inclusion.

Since that time, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conducted its review of available scientific literature and determined that the cancer risk for firefighters should be reclassified as group 1, acknowledging that the work performed by firefighters is carcinogenic to humans.

This, along with the amendments made to the Federal scheme, should now provide the Victorian government all the evidence it needs to update the Victorian scheme to ensure our firefighters receive the same protection as their federal counterparts. I have recently re-written to the Minister seeking her support.

I have also sent my thanks on behalf of Victorian volunteer firefighters to Australian Senator David Pocock who negotiated the amendments to the Commonwealth presumptive legislation scheme as part of the negotiations over the Australian Government’s recent IR law changes, noting it will significantly assist our advocacy for the addition cancers to be added to the Victorian scheme.

Senator Pocock is the independent Senator for the Australian Capital Territory and has been a staunch ally of volunteer firefighters, fighting to have ACT volunteer firefighters recognised by the Commonwealth legislation, just as Victorian volunteer firefighters are under the Victorian scheme. He has worked closely with our friends from the ACT Volunteer Brigades Association, whom we work closely with through our national body - Council of Australian Volunteer Fire Associations (CAVFA).

While this likely has some way to go here in Victoria, these are important milestones that will assist our continued advocacy and I will keep you updated on progress. While we hope no one ever has to use these protections, the reality is when they are needed – they provide an enormous peace of mind for the individual and their families allowing them to concentrate on their treatment and wellbeing during what is often a fight for their life. It’s not a hand out, and simply provides firefighters with the same entitlements that other workers are entitled to when they are injured in their workplaces. For volunteer firefighters especially, who often don’t have any sick leave or paid leave to draw upon – these protections are crucial.

SURVEY

And a final reminder that our annual volunteer survey will be closing shortly. The survey has been open since the 27th October and if you have not yet completed it – time is running out.

I have yet to meet a volunteer who does not have an opinion on how well or how poor things are going within CFA, so I urge you to please contribute so that you can help us make a difference.

Please don’t just leave it for others to comment. Every response adds credible weight to the results and improves our ability to use the results to effect real change.

CFA is using the results, and many of the indicators directly influence CFA programs and priorities, including funding bids for initiatives that seek to address the problems raised.

The survey asks for your opinion on most aspects of your CFA experience. From training, consultation, people management, support from and cooperation across CFA, culture, how well volunteers are respected and how you feel about the future.

We take your privacy seriously with all your answers being confidential, and we never share your personal details with anyone including CFA. All results are deidentified, yet every comment and every response are analysed to understand what is working well and what isn’t. Visit the VFBV website to do the survey today.

FIRE SEASON

As predicted, the later than usual fire season commenced, with the first total fire ban days declared over the new year. Thank-you to all members who attended incidents over the Christmas and New Year periods.

While there is never a good time, the sacrifices made by members to attend to emergencies during what are among the most treasured family times is greatly appreciated and respected.

Welcome to 2023 and thank-you for all you do. Stay safe.

 


Survey closing

This year’s Vol Survey is closing soon.

Volunteers may complete the survey by scanning the QR code below, or visiting the VFBV website.

Paper copies are also available from the VFBV office and you can call (03) 9886 1141 to request a paper copy be posted to you or one of your fellow brigade members.

 

2023 State Championship Entries

Brigade and team entries and judge and officials registration for the 2023 State Championships are now open. The 2023 Championships will again be held on consecutive weekends in March 2023 in Mooroopna. All team entries and judge and official registrations will close on Sunday 19th February 2023.

The first weekend of competition will see the State Urban Junior Championship take place on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th March. While on the second weekend of competition, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th March, the State Urban Senior Championship will be contested alongside the State Rural Senior and Junior Championships.

Brigade and team entries will again be collected online for the 2023 championships. Please visit the VFBV website for links to enter your team or register as a judge or official for any of the championships.

The VFBV website also has information for competing brigades as well as updated rule books for both the urban and rural competitions along with lists of local competitions being conducted in the lead up to the state championships.

Also in the lead up to the State Championships, the Urban Competition and Rules Committee are conducting a skills workshop for all competition judges and officials, coaches and competitors on Sunday 22nd January 2023. Please visit the VFBV website to find out more information and RSVP to the VFBV office if you are interest in attending the skills workshop to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 03 9886 1141.

If you require an assistance during the registration process, please contact the VFBV office on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 9886 1141 or CFA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

 

Flood Reimbursement
Members are reminded that the Victorian Government have instituted a Volunteer Flood Response Expense Reimbursement scheme for CFA, SES and LSV volunteers involved in the response to claim any personal expenses incurred. Visit the VFBV website for further details. Claims can only be made once and must be submitted by 31st January, 2023.

VFBV continues to update its useful Fact Sheet to assist members impacted by the floods navigate the various support available.

The fact sheet outlines the various local, State and Commonwealth support available and provides electronic links to resources where available, as well as common phone hotline numbers for those having difficulty accessing the internet.

The Fact sheet is available via the VFBV website, or paper copies can be provided by calling the VFBV Office on (03) 9886 1141 or contacting your local VFBV Support Officer.

Resources include immediate relief and recovery grants and advice, longer term assistance grants, income assistance, welfare support, business support and mental health resources and support.

 

Ash Wednesday

A reminder that the 40-year commemoration of the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 service will be held on Sunday 12th February 2023 at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre in Cockatoo.

Capacity at the venue is limited, so a booking and expression of interest system has been implemented to track interest and allow the committee to respond to demand.

If you are planning on attending in person, please visit tinyurl.com/vfbv-ashwed and complete the expression of interest.

The service will also be live streamed for those unable to attend on the day.

 

Fire Wise – January 2023 online only edition
The January 2023 edition of Fire Wise has been published online only, this edition and past editions are available from the Fire Wise website.

You can support Fire Wise and the role it plays as an independent voice in keeping volunteers informed by becoming a subscriber. To become a Fire Wise subscriber visit the Fire Wise website or contact the Managing Editor of Fire Wise, Gordon Rippon-King either by phone 0402 051 412 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

 

Recent articles on the VFBV Website
Now Open – 2022 VFBV Volunteer Welfare & Efficiency Survey

2022 Flood Recovery Resources

Flood Response Volunteer Expense Reimbursement

2023 State Championships Entries Now Open

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

 

Enjoy the VFBV monthly newsletter?
If you enjoy reading the VFBV newsletter each month, why not share it with your fellow volunteers?

Either share this page with others who may enjoy the articles or encourage other volunteers to sign up to receive their own copy via email each month here

 

Friday, 23 December 2022 12:10

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Written by

On behalf of VFBV, we wish all members, friends and supporters a very happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

We take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our CFA Volunteers for the tremendous work you do in protecting our communities.

To all our volunteer firefighter's on the front line, and to the thousands of others who support in our communities or behind the scenes, well done and thank-you for your incredible contribution year after year.

To the families, employers and supporters of CFA volunteers we say thank you. Your support is crucial to the work our members do in protecting Victorian communities from fire and building safe and resilient communities, 365 days of the year.

May everyone have a safe and Happy Christmas.

We thoroughly enjoy the work that we do on your behalf and are privileged to work alongside each and every one of you.

Stay safe over the holiday season, and please look out for one another.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022 16:17

2023 State Championships Entries Now Open

Written by

Entries have opened for the 2023 State Championships, as with previous years entries and judge/official nominations will be collected online.

The 2023 State Championship dates are:

State Urban Junior Championship             Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th March 2023

State Urban Senior Championship            Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th March 2023

State Rural Senior Championship              Saturday 25th March 2023

State Rural Junior Championship               Sunday 26th March 2023

 

Entries for all State Championships close on Sunday 19th February 2023. Please note that it is unlikely that late entries will be accepted.

 

State Rural Championships

Team Entries and Registration

The brigade member responsible for completing their team’s entry should complete this form: https://groups.operoo.com/public_forms/1002844/new 

A link to the entry form will then be sent to you (please note that this is not sent automatically and therefore should be requested sooner rather than later).

Judge and Officials Nominations

All Judges and Officials nominations are to be submitted here: https://groups.operoo.com/public_forms/1001848/new 

Please note that you do not need to register as an official for the Rural State Championships if you are nominating to be part of the make up crews, this information is collected via the Team entry forms.

Information for Completing Brigades

A memo with information for competing brigades can be downloaded from the bottom of this page. It includes information on the updated rule book, local competition dates and information about the Torchlight Procession which will once again be held at the 2023 State Championships on Saturday evening.

Updated Rule Book

The State Competition Committee have approved changes to the Rule Book at their October 2022 meeting. The changes include amendments to Event 2 to include a second hose, clarification of team make up and changes to the hose bowling line for junior competitors in Events 4 and 5. 

A copy of the updated rule book can be downloaded from the VFBV website here.

Printed copies are available from the VFBV office if required. 

 

State Urban Championships

Team entries

The brigade member responsible for completing their team’s entry should complete this form: https://groups.operoo.com/public_forms/1002844/new 

A link to the entry form will then be sent to you (please note that this is not sent automatically and therefore should be requested sooner rather than later).

Judge and Official Nominations

All Judges and Officials nominations are to be submitted here: https://groups.operoo.com/public_forms/1001846/new 

Information for Competing Brigades

The December 2022 Memo from the Competition and Rules Committee to Competing Brigades and Competition Associations can be downloaded at the bottom of the page. The Memo includes the new skills workshop date, expressions of interest for the recorders panel and trophy coordinator and information on registering for the 2023 State Championships.

 

Rule Book

The updated rule book can be downloaded from the VFBV website the 2022 changes include the inclusion of the rules for the new B Section Event, Striking One Disc Twice with Removable Back Cap – Four Competitors Event.

Printed copies are available from the VFBV office if required. 

 

Queries and Assistance with Entries and Judge/Official Nominations

If you have any problems accessing the online forms, please contact either the VFBV office via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 03 9886 1141 or Jen at CFA via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0448 459 132  

Please note if you have query, there will be limited response over the Christmas/New Year period however you will receive a response as soon as possible after this time.

 

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CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.

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